Friday, February 6, 2009

So That's Why They Call it a Developing Country

Flor de Caña

So what I wanted was to show you how this, a field of sugar cane, moves from it's place in the field.

To it's place on this cart.


And then to it's place on this truck.

A little truck with your sugar

It happens at a factory where the whistle still blows when the shift ends.

Whistle Workday

It's a place called Ingenio Casur.

Ingenio Sugar

Roberto's father, grandfather and uncles all worked there at one time or another. When Roberto was robbed, it was a worker in the fields that found his documents. It is a major employer for the area.

Ingenio Smokestack

Unfortunately, while some places in Nicaragua are scarily easy to get into, this place is so afraid of what they called 'negative press' from my little post that weeks of phone calls and visits to get permission to go inside only resulted in getting the run around.

It makes you wonder what they're hiding.

Unhealthy pollution? Well, yes, but that's not exactly hidden and it's not exactly illegal.

Terrible working conditions? Well, they're probably not the best, it's hot, hard work. But I haven't heard of any worker deaths lately (as in the whole time I've been here) and it's important in an economy where jobs are difficult to come by.

So it's just because. Just because they felt like blocking me. There's no freedom of information act (although that wouldn't exactly apply in this case, you know what I mean), there's no way to bring light to a murky situation.

And that is what makes this a developing country.

Last week we didn't have water in the house for four days. The last day we also didn't have electricity, and when the water came back on, we were still without electricity for another three days.

We reported the outages, but each time were told it was the first reporting of the situation. Other neighbors said they'd been told the company was currently out of transformers (apparently the last one had blown a few blocks away) and we wouldn't get back power for two weeks.

Blackout 2

Eventually all services resumed, but meanwhile, you have only conflicting rumors of when and why it is all happening.

No one cares to make sure that the country of Nicaragua has an extra transformer in case one blows (or maybe several, they blow all the time).

No one cares to let the people affected know why, when or how.

And it is culturally accepted. That is probably one of the most important parts. People generally don't get mad and do something. Sometimes they're so beaten down by the system they don't even really get mad.

Apathy becomes necessary for survival, you don't care about these things so that you still have energy to get up, pull water from the well, take a bucket bath and get yourself to work that provides no reward besides the paycheck (but not much of one!), without a car.

President Daniel Ortega still has billboards up from the election two years ago that say 'Power to the People'.

But the people are a dissonant voice. They are not together, coordinated, organized. They do not have a direction. And how can you finish developing without a direction?

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